29 January 2009

Wrong side of bed

I woke up in a really bad mood today. I don't think it's for any particular reason, I just woke up thinking "I can't be bothered with any of it today". I wonder why you just wake up like that sometimes? On this occasion it's probably related to work being consistently dull at the moment, and I knew I had a couple of annoying emails to deal with when I got in, and I hadn't had enough sleep. And then even getting to work involved sitting on a horrible bus with small seats that hurt my knees listening to annoying schoolchildren making too much noise.

Well anyway, I've cheered up a bit now. Someone sent me this link, described as the best complaint letter of all time, and that helped because I nearly wet myself.

I had quite a long phone conversation with Mum on Tuesday (probably another reason for my plummeting mood) in which she complained about how infrequently my brother calls home. To be honest, I'm not that surprised; it is depressing to call her. There's always something that's gone wrong or something that's stressing her out, and I can't remember the last time she said "yes I've had a nice day thanks". Plus Dave works a lot so doesn't have much time for calling her, and she'll never call him because she's "waiting to see how long it'll be before he calls". So no wonder she never speaks to him.

She's started to stress a bit about his wedding now, as May is creeping up quite quickly. She knows she won't be able to manage sitting in a room of 100 people eating a two hour meal, but that it's not going to be as easy for her to slip out as it was at our wedding. And when I talked to Dave about it, he said (rather unhelpfully) "I hope she's not going to be going in and out during the meal". Of course she's going to be doing that, if she's even there at all! It's surprising how little he understands, even after seven years of her being ill. It's because he thinks it's mostly in her head anyway, which partly it may well be because she makes herself feel ill with her anxiety and stress.

So anyway, I had to try to convey to him that we don't live in an ideal world where she's not ill and will happily sit at the top table for two hours or more and everyone will have a lovely time. It's just not going to happen, so they're going to have to find a compromise. I don't know why it's got anything to do with me at all really, but of course it does because I'm de facto mediator and everyone looks expectantly to me for bright ideas and to fix it all. I'd also quite like to enjoy the wedding myself though!

I better read that complaint letter again, I've depressed myself now...

26 January 2009

Cheesey winey fun and outright rage

Rather than go out for an expensive night's clubbing, we thought recently that maybe we would try to do a few cheaper but just-as-fun things. This is partly due to our house buying economy drive, and also as a 'beat the credit crunch' initiative. Incidentally, I'm starting to HATE the term credit crunch. Every news item at the moment is credit crunch this, credit crunch that; I think it is being incredibly over-used and must surely by now be losing some of its crunchiness.

Anyway, so on Saturday instead of going out we hosted a Cheese and Wine Evening. It was all terribly sophisticated, and guests were instructed they all had to bring one interesting cheese and one bottle of wine that had been reduced in price by at least £3. I think people did very well indeed on the cheese front; the wine front is a little more hazy but I recall that there was a lot of it, and a lot of empty bottles in the kitchen the next day.

I got to try some great cheeses I've never had before, and had often never even heard of before, including Blacksticks Blue, Cambozola, Wensleydale with cranberries in it, cheddar with mustard in it, organic cheddar, brie, goat's cheese, and Austrian smoked cheese (the one that comes in little orange sausages). It made me appreciate how easy it is just to buy cheddar and never eat anything else, and to miss out on the whole cheesey world that's out there.

And we managed to sound ever so high brow making comments like "it has the taste of a blue, but the creaminess of a brie", before we descended into wine-fuelled SingStar cacophony.

I had a very nice weekend overall, and not just the cheesey winey part.

We'd also said recently that maybe we should have the occasional boardgame night, again as a money saving thing. We've only got a few at the moment, like Monopoly and Risk and they both take ages to play, so we bought a new one we saw while we were out called Blokus. We played it a couple of times on Saturday, and while it was fun and is a good game, it did unfortunately remind me how bad Chris and I are at playing together. I always think "oh we're a bit older and more mature now, we'll be fine", but invariably we are not.

Basically we are both awful AWFUL losers, and sometimes it'll be one of us and sometimes the other, but usually someone ends up in a right strop. It sounds so silly after the event, and it only lasts as long as we're actually playing, but at the time it is the source of uncontrollable rage and frustration. It doesn't help that depending on the game there is usually one of us that clearly wins loads to the detriment of the other, so there isn't even any give or take. Like Chris ALWAYS wins at Buzz, to the point where I want to strangle him with my Buzz Buzzer wire. He always seems to win at Monopoly as well. But then I seemed to do better at Blokus (although we only played twice before we had to stop for the sake of our marriage).

I think it's based on the fact that if we were playing someone else, each of us would usually win, and so losing becomes very difficult to swallow. That sounds a bit conceited, but I'd challenge anyone to play Chris at Buzz Music and not end up feeling like a total retard. It's also much easier to be cross with your partner I think - if you're playing a friend you have to shut your face and pretend you're enjoying it even if they completely demolish you and make smug comments while doing so.

So anyway, I'd say boardgame night was only a partial success. I'm sure we'll forget all about the rage and try again in a few days though, so if I'm found floating face down in a canal with a six-sided dice jammed somewhere unpleasant you'll know why.

23 January 2009

What a ridiculous waste of everyone's time

I've just read an email saying that students over the road at Sussex have occupied a lecture theatre "in solidarity with the people of Gaza" and issued a list of demands to the university. What the fuck? Since when did Gaza become the university's responsibility?

Here are their stupid demands:

1. That the University of Sussex issue a statement condemning the recent and continuing atrocities perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza strip. The University should officially denounce the attacks on civilians, the systematic obstruction of humanitarian aid and the targeting of academic institutions, hospitals, places of worship and international peace keeping facilities.

I don't think the university takes political positions, especially not when ordered to by students.

2. That the University of Sussex cease to invest directly or indirectly in companies complicit in human rights abuses in the Gaza strip and internationally. We would like to draw attention to the motion passed on this subject in the USSU AGM of this academic year.

Hmm who would identify such companies (sadly I have no confidence in a students union to do so), and who cares about any motions they may or may not have passed at their inconsequential AGM?

3. That no Israeli goods or goods produced by companies that have directly funded the State of Israel be sold on campus. The University of Sussex should remove these goods from all private retail and dining facilities as the Union is endeavouring to accomplish.

Oh very good, punish all Israeli companies and citizens for their government's action, regardless of their actual view on the matter. Will we be taking all American goods off the shelves too because of Iraq and Afghanistan, and all British ones as well for that matter?

4. That the University of Sussex provide complete financial scholarships for three students from Al-Quds Open University in Tubas with which the University of Sussex Students Society is twinned, and three students from Gaza University which has been bombed by the Israeli military.

Er no, you don't get freebies by behaving like idiot children who think they're political.

5. That any surplus educational resources available to the University of Sussex are provided to Gaza University and that the shipping of these resources be fully paid for by the University of Sussex.

Why don't you buy some fucking resources and post them over there yourselves?

6. That there be no legal, financial or academic measures taken against anyone involved in, or supporting, the occupation. This extends to the Student Union. Students involved will be guaranteed free movement in and out of the occupied space.

Blah blah blah, whatever. Bunch of idiots. If they care so much about Gaza, why don't they go and protest outside the Israeli embassy? At least they've got something to do with it! Or GO to Gaza and hand out aid and help the wounded. No? Too much effort? Much nicer to sit in a lecture theatre and eat chocolate digestives I'm sure, sadly it's rather more ineffective.

Occasionally students occupy buildings at Sussex in protest against things the university is doing (cutbacks or whatever), and at least that's directly relevant. But this is stupid! They're idiotic children who've decided they want to be political.

I hope the university ignores them.

22 January 2009

Obama Inauguration Take #2

Apparently he had to do his swearing-in oath again! How sweet! I think he's only the third president who has had to re-do it.

I found out though that it wasn't his fault it went wrong (apart from the first bit where he talked over the Justice man). The Justice got the words wrong, and Obama noticed and hesitated because he knew it was wrong, and then the Justice repeated them STILL wrong, so Obama just said what he was told to, and that's why they have to do it again. You'd think he could read the words off his card correctly! And on international TV with a billion viewers, in front of your new president too... Tsk, he should be struck off or struck down or whatever it is you do with Justices. Put down? No, that's pets.

Oh yes, and having discussed the inauguration with Mum a bit, she informed me that she doesn't think Barack Obama is black enough to be called black because he has a white mother. I pointed out that in segregated America 50 years ago that probably wouldn't have made much difference, to which she sort of harrumphed. So take note, Mr President, my Mum thinks you are Not Black Enough. I'm sure he'll be distraught.


Also, this is quite interesting as it points out that his second oath was taken without a Bible, and that he and no-one else present seemed to mind. Good! It would be stupid if you had to swear the oath on a Bible, what if you weren't Christian? We might have to wait another 50 years for a non-Christian to be elected of course, but it's still nice to know they could take the oath without a big hoo ha.

21 January 2009

Rainbowfish bus invasion

Rainbowfish Boy was waiting at my bus stop when I arrived this morning. Despite not having my glasses on, I spotted his hollow-cheeked stupid face from more than 50 feet away, it's amazing the acuity that loathing can give you.

And then he actually got ON my bus and rode it all the way up to Moulsecoomb where he got off and I glared at the back of his head. How dare he sully my morning before I've even had my second cup of tea and woken up properly! I don't know where he was going, but hopefully he got attacked by feral Moulsecoomb children on the way and they killed and ate him. They could feast off that vast chip on his shoulder for months.

It did, however, give me the opportunity to point him out to my friend from work (hi Dom!), so now she can join the Pyramid Of Hate and spread the word.

Obama Inauguration

I nipped off from work a bit early yesterday and got home just before five, in time to see the swearings-in of Joe Biden and Barack Obama. The BBC commentators made a point of remarking during Joe Biden's oath that it meant he could become president should anything happen to Obama during his term, and it felt a little bit like they were reminding us how close Sarah Palin would have been to the presidency if things had gone differently.

Then there was some music from Yo Yo Ma and some other famous musicians, which I would have liked to listen to but which I couldn't hear particularly well because the commentators chose to prattle on over the top of it.

And then the time came for President Obama to be sworn in. And he fumbled his words, bless! He lept in too early and spoke over the swearing-in man (some sort of Justice I think), and then got stuck on the second line because he lost his rhythm. It was terribly sweet. His inaugural address went much better though with ne'ery a fumbled line in sight.

What struck me most was the marked change in language to the previous presidency, with lots of words and references that I don't think President Bush would ever have spoken in a speech. He talked about restoring science to its rightful place, and about combating climate change by harnessing solar and wind power. He said they would no longer accept that they had to choose between their safety and their ideals (bet that didn't go down very well with Bush and Cheney). And he described America as a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. Just that little reference to the non-religious section of society had a lot of impact for me and was very encouraging. It's true that you still have to be God-fearing to be elected president, but it's nice to know that anyone who isn't God-fearing might get a fair hearing. I also particularly liked the line "To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect". I can't remember President Bush ever sounding so willing to engage.

He worked hard too to remind peopel not to raise their expectations too high - there are still lots of problems facing the nation and the world, and they aren't just going to get better overnight. I think that was good because he could have just ridden the euphoria and said lots of crowd-pleasing things. But instead he also said it's going to be hard, we'll have to work hard and make hard decisions, and it'll take time.

Of course, it's just a speech, so you can't place too much emphasis on it. You have to judge him by his actions and not just his words. But I enjoyed watching it, and I felt like the speech could easily have been directed at and relevant to the world as a whole, and not just the US. I think President Obama has generated an enormous amount of goodwill and hopeful thinking from a lot of people, and I hope that he can take advantage of that (and that it'll last long enough) for him to make a real difference.

19 January 2009

Blue Monday

Apparently today is Blue Monday, officially the most depressing day of the year according to some (unnamed) psychologists on a BBC news story I just read. It is calculated based on weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing your new year's resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.

Well, isn't that cheerful?? Personally, I wasn't feeling too bad until I read that story, but now I'm feeling an almost obligatory sense of depression and Resentment Towards The World.

Yes I suppose it is crappy weather today, and there aren't that many things to look forward to in January, and some people might be running out of money by this stage of the month. But I actually had quite a nice weekend and I do not intend to be dragged down by a BBC news story.

We did a bit of shopping on Saturday and I bought myself two (cheapish) presents: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian in Italian; and The Devil Wears Prada in French. It's been a while since I read anything in French or Italian, and I thought they should both be quite good reads. The tractors book has been recommended by lots of people (although it might lose its humour in translation), and The Devil Wears Prada will just be a light read. They had to be cheapish presents because we are having an economy drive in order to try to boost our savings as part of our house-buying plans for this year.

Then we had some drinks out in the way-too-busy Lion and Lobster in the evening, before moving on to the extremely empty Caledonian where I met a friendly transsexual with possibly the worst breath I've ever smelt on a live human. There may be one exception to that actually, it'd be a close run thing between them in a halitosis play off I think.

And then on Sunday I played on the Playstation 3 all day (Prince of Persia and WipeOut HD are both very good) and we watched Rosemary's Baby.

All in all it was fine and not at all depressing. And today has been alright so far, and I'm due to be playing badminton for the first time in years tomorrow.

So I defy thee, Blue Monday and your cerulean despondency.

15 January 2009

Hot toplessness

In the first nudity-in-the-seminar-room-opposite incident of 2009, there is currently a cute dark haired student being paraded around with his top off, presumably for some educational purpose.

He's already stood facing forwards, then facing backwards, and now he is laying on a bed having his head and arms moved around by some sort of doctor/lecturer. Oh, and now he's flipped him over so he can poke him in the back for a while.

I'm having an EXCELLENT afternoon.

13 January 2009

I'm now an avid sports fan

I've been watching a couple of recordings we made of the Olympics recently, specifically of the diving. We didn't record it for the sport you understand, we recorded it because it's the best event for tanned young males wearing the tiniest possible speedos.

And my God, Thomas Finchum is soooo good looking. He's just yummy.

So now I am obviously a full on sports fan, to the point where I may even try to get tickets for the 2012 Olympics. Why didn't anyone tell me sport could be so interesting?

12 January 2009

Trash TV and yummy dinner

I had a nice weekend featuring large quantities of low-brow television viewing and then a scrummy meal out at Momma Cherri's last night.

There seem to be quite a lot of trashy programmes on at the moment, and I'm throwing myself whole-heartedly into them, as there really isn't much of an alternative. So we watched Total Wipeout, based on the American show Wipeout where enthusiastic contestants run round impossible assault courses, bouncing off things, falling over, and suffering minor injuries; then there was Your Country Needs You, the odd new format for choosing our Eurovision song, but which seems fairly harmless (although Andrew Lloyd Webber is looking increasinly like Emperor Palpatine); and finally Dancing On Ice has returned for another series of graceless ineptitude, tight trousers on the one or two good looking males, and minor to medium-seriousness celebrity wounding. So that was fun anyway.

Last night we went to Momma Cherri's and had another yummy meal, we've been a few times now. I got my meat fix for the month by having chicken wings, chicken drumsticks, AND barbecue ribs (Chris averted his gaze while I made a big sticky mess of myself), and he had much more sophisticated Vegetarian Combo Platter. It's always really nice in there, but I'm disappointed we haven't seen the real Momma Cherri yet. She may be fictional for all I know, like Aunt Bessie.

That's all really. Work is very very dull and I'm having trouble filling the days, but that's nothing new. Oh and Mum and Dad's Indian Burial Curse has returned - their central heating failed for a day and made a loud clanking noise, only to suddenly rectify itself as soon as an engineer arrived and leave no trace of any problem. So now Mum is feeling radiators in an OCD manner every half hour to see if it's still working and ringing me up about it when it all gets too much.

09 January 2009

It's a little bit funny

Sometimes I think it's a bit odd that I live with another boy. I sleep in a bed with another boy, I kiss another boy, but he’s a BOY.

Obviously, I quite like it, and I wouldn't change it. But when you grow up being told that one day you’ll get married to a girl and you’ll have children and live in a house with an apple tree next to it and a yellow sun in the sky and smoke coming out of the chimney, it feels weird when you don't end up doing it.

07 January 2009

New Year's Eve

Oo, I forgot to say that I had a MUCH better New Year's Eve this year than last year. I was getting quite worried about it in the end, I had such an awful time last year (see post detailing the badness). But this year I vowed I would be more sensible, and despite the best efforts of my 'friends' to turn me into a train wreck again for their own amusement, I was highly successful.

We had a nice dinner at home with Andi and Paul, who've spent the last couple of New Years down with us, and I carefully moderated my wine intake with strategic sipping. Then we had a couple of drinks in the Bulldog, and although I hoped to alternate my drinks with soft drinks so I'd last longer, that was deemed "too lame" and I wasn't allowed. I coped anyway by sticking religiously to vodka, and enjoyed further drinks at Vavoom (very straight for some reason pre-midnight, it's not 'cool' to go to a gay bar you know), dancing at Revenge while skidding around on a sea of drinks and glasses, and then extra haven't-quite-had-enough drinks at Vavoom again at the end of the night where there was a multitude of pretty boys for us to leer at in a drunken way. And then fajita pizza at home and bed at 4am.

So all in all, I would deem that a vast improvement on last year's poor showing of throwing up and passing out at 11.30pm and then spending all of New Year's Day feeling sad.

Oh January, thou art the crappiest month

Well it's 7 January now and I've been back at work since Monday. The rest of my Christmas break was fine really, after the fairly dire Boxing Day. After a further roast dinner at Chris' house at the weekend, we came back down to Brighton in time for our friend's 30th birthday celebrations on Monday and New Year's Eve on Wednesday. Both of them were fun evenings which involved some bar hopping, dancing, the occasional tipple of alcohol, and being pushed by large lesbian ladies who insist on dancing in the widest fucking circumference possible. But woe betide you if you dare push them back, oh no, because then you're persecuting them in some misogynistic masculine way and they have a right go at you. Anyway.

Work has been fine since I've been back, although to my extreme annoyance I managed to catch yet another virus at the weekend so had to come to work with a sore throat and stuffed up sinuses. I'm nearly better now. It has been rather dull though, and the weather is really starting to get to me. It's FREEZING, and it's been far colder for far longer than I ever remember it being before. The heating at home is struggling to cope so I end up feeling just cold enough to be annoyed most of the time, and it's too cold to want to go out and do anything. We tried to go for a walk on the seafront the other day and had to retreat after 15 minutes when we started to lose the feeling in our lips. It even looks deceptively sunny out there sometimes, just to tempt you into going outside so the arctic wind can lay waste to any remnants of Christmas cheer you might have had.

I know they always peddle out news articles in the new year about January being the most depressing month, but it really is the most depressing month. We keep saying we should try to organise some nice things to do so we've got stuff to look forward to, but then not figuring out what. Maybe we should go for a weekend trip somewhere? Oh I don't know.

On a slightly more interesting note, we've decided we might buy a flat this year. It's quite exciting, we've never bought before because I've always said no no we have to wait until we've got more money and prices come down. And now prices have come down and we do have some money. I'm also a bit scared though because I hate committing to things and I worry about ending up with something crappy by accident, like a flat with damp or bad neighbours or a poltergeist that eats your socks. Chris will keep me in hand though, he doesn't usually put up with any of my nonsense. So yay, perhaps in six months we'll have a flat of our own with an actual guest bedroom and more than one heater!